No doubt, low key photography is a fun challenge for both beginners and experts. Though, it's an easy way to make the photos look dramatic, it can be hard to master. Like different other photography tricks, it is all about shadow and light play.

A low key photograph is one that has mostly deep colors and shadow effect. This photograph can instigate expurgation of powerful feelings and emotions like high key photograph.

But while a high-key photo looks bright and happy, a low-key photo looks more exciting and mysterious. In this blog post, we will talk about the best low key photography tips for beginners & experts along with explaining many crucial things.


What Is Low Key Photography?

Low key photography is a kind of photography that uses powerful combination of dark colors to make pictures exciting by adding special effects. Some people who take low-key photos learned how to do it from the painters from ancient time. They applied a special way of painting called chiaroscuro to make dark paintings. The low-key photos are similar to chiaroscuro paintings and they use less light than other photos.

Moreover, low key photography lighting uses only one light, which you can change with another light or something that can bounce the light back. That means shadows stay dark and only the thing you want to take a picture of is bright.what is low key photography

The core thing about low key photography lighting is that it makes you feel lonely and scared, and that’s why it’s often used in movies that are scary or sad. That’s why we have to manage or control the other light to get the best outcomes.

Key Difference Between High Key and Low Key Photography:

High key lighting is very bright and makes everything look white or light. High key pictures are happy, young, simple, and fun. They are good for taking pictures of weddings, babies, and fashion where you want to show happy feelings.

Low key lighting is very dark and makes everything look black or dark. Low key pictures are dramatic, mysterious, and have many shadows. They have very little white or light. They are good for taking pictures of people, products, and anything that you want to make look sexy and mysterious. Low key pictures in black and white always look cool.

In short, low key and high key are two different ways to take pictures. Low key pictures are dark and have little light, whereas high-key pictures are bright and have lots of light.

To Keep in mind: “Low Key” equals “Dark” Mood and “High Key” equals “Bright” Mood.



How To Do Low Key Photography? [5 Things You Need to Know]

Low-key photography is a fun way to take pictures that look dark and cool. You need some special things before you start taking low-key pictures. Here are some things you should have:

1# Having A Reliable Digital Camera:

You need a good digital camera that can change how fast it takes pictures and how much light it lets in. This will help you take low key pictures that look clear no matter how much light you have.

2# Black Background:

You need a black cloth or paper to put behind the thing you want to take a picture of. This will make the thing stand out more and look more dramatic. One easy way to take low key pictures is to put some space between the thing and the black background and use one light from the side. You should also turn off the flash on your camera.

3# Using Speedlight:

A Speedlight is a small flash that you can attach to your camera or use separately. It can help you add more light to your low key pictures and make them look better.

4# Adding Studio lights:

You don’t need many lights for low key photography, but you need some basic ones. You should have some lights and flashes that you can move around and control. This will help you add some light where you need it or make some parts darker if you want.

5# Taking the benefits of the Reflector:

A reflector is something that can bounce light back to the thing you want to take a picture of. It can be very helpful, especially if you don’t have many lights or if you are outside. A reflector can help you change how the shadows look and which side of the thing is brighter.

13 Pro Tips for How to Shoot Low Key Photography:

You need the right things and know how to use your camera well to take creative low key photography. But you also need to practice a lot to get better at it. Here are some tips that can help you when you start taking low key pictures:

1# Rembrandt Lighting:

Rembrandt lighting is a way of lighting that is named after an old painter. Rembrandt liked to paint where a triangle of light was on the dark side of his thing. This made his pictures look dark and cool with different shapes and textures. You can do Rembrandt lighting in photography by using one light.

rembrandt lighting

2# Single Light:

Rembrandt lighting is one way to use one light to take low key pictures. If you use one light, you need to watch out for your pictures being too dark and change your camera settings if needed.

single light in low key photography

3# Combination of Black & White:

Black and white is a good choice of colors when you take low key pictures. Black and white makes the difference between light and dark more noticeable. It makes your pictures more interesting because the little light stands out more against the black.

black and white in low key photography

4# Photo Editing:

We know that photo editing plays a vital role when you take low key photography. When you take low key pictures, you might have pictures that are too dark or things that are not bright enough. You can use a reliable software program to fix your low key pictures and make them clear but still dark and moody.

photo editing in photoshop cc

5# Using The Side Lighting:

If you light your thing from the side, it will make your picture look more different and exciting. One side will be dark and the other side will be bright. This will make your low key picture look more dramatic. If one side of your thing goes into the dark, this is called split lighting.

There is no right or wrong side to take the picture from; you can choose which side of your thing looks better. Simply try to move the light.

using the side lighting

6# Convey A Story with The Low-Key Light:

Keep in mind that your key goal is to make a specific part of the picture bright. Also, you shouldn’t forget what you are trying to show.

Therefore, you can do this by moving and changing your thing and light, so that your shadows are in the right place. This will help you get that dark and cool picture that you want.

However, low key photography is very good at making things look more real, deep, and different. Think about pictures of nature, animals, and people. You can use low key photography to make things like hair or skin look more interesting.

carry a story with the low key lighting


7# Abstract Thoughts in Low Key photography:

You can use low key photography to take pictures of body shapes that look cool. It helps you show the shape and form of the body better. It is a great way to make the body look beautiful and artistic.

Apart from that, take pictures of people who are fit and healthy using low key photography lighting. It allows you to show how to use light to make a part of the person look more important.

By having a lot of shadows, you can make the person look more deep and strong. You can make their muscles look bigger and more clear.

Finally, you can also change how the thing looks a part of it stands out more by making some parts bright.

abstract thoughts in low key photography

8# Low Key Photography in Wildlife:

You can easily make your animal photos look low key by editing them on your computer. You need to make sure that the background is blurry and the animal is clear.

Then you can change the brightness and the shadows to make the photo more dramatic. You can practice this at home with your pets before you try it with a wild tiger.

low key photography in wildlife

The low key photography is a fun way to learn about light and how it affects your photos. You can use this skill for any kind of photo you want.

9# Try To Use A Fixed Item Initially:

Low key photography is when you make your photos look dark and mysterious. If you are new to this, you should start with something that does not move, like a baby doll, an apple, etc.  You can take low key photos of anything, not just people.

use a fixed item initially

You can do this if you want to show off the object, make it look good, and highlight its features. Low key photos are good for both selling things and taking pictures of people.

10# Playing with the Different Colors:

If your photo has different colors, some cool and some warm, you can modify them using the HSL panel in Abode Photoshop or Lightroom. You can also ask someone who knows how to edit photos to help you. Don’t be afraid to try different colors and make your photo look fun and interesting with cool and warm areas.playing with the different colors

11# Adding A Vignette Effect:

A vignette is when you make the edges of your photo darker. This makes your low key photo look more mysterious, especially if it is a person. You can use a tool called Radial Filter in Photoshop to make a vignette. It is better than the Vignette Tool because you can choose where you want the vignette to be.

adding a vignette effect

12# Fixing Background Wrinkles:

When you take low key photos in a studio, you want a smooth black background with no wrinkles. To make the background smooth, you can use some tools called Shadows and Blacks. They can make the wrinkles go away from your background.

But be careful, they can also change your subject. You may need to use another tool called Adjustment Brush to fix some parts of your subject.

fixing background wrinkles

13# Snapping Landscape Photos:

Most people use this for people’s photos, but you can also use it for nature photos. You can make some amazing landscape photos with low key photography.

Look for the clouds in the sky. They can create your photo look awesome. They will make the sky bright and the ground dark. They will also make some cool light effects on the ground. Don’t be scared to try something new and learn how to take low key landscape photos.

snapping landscape photos


Final Thought:

Eventually, we hope that you learned a lot from this blog post on low key photography. It’s your turn now to try it and explore the dark side!

However, your lighting choices will affect how your photo looks. Low key photography can be fun and creative, but you need to know how to use light, shadow, and tone. You need to be careful with the lighting to control the shadows in your photo. That’s it.

Do you have any questions about low key photography ideas? Please let us know in the comment section.

To know more about Photoshop tutorials, you can check out our blog page. Thanks for being with us.